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April 16, 2009

lsgl: how to choreograph a stampede?

by sven at 4:00 pm

click on image to play clip (8sec - 488 KB)

My guiding principle with LSGL right now: work from rough to polished. I'm trying to do a low-res stand-in for every shot, so I can feel the shape of the film, get a sense of it as a whole.

I'm making progress… But boy is this stampede sequence a headache!

I'm discovering that I tend to brainstorm static compositions… Little thumbnail storyboard frames that look pretty on paper. But frame composition really ought to be secondary to telling the story

So I pull back and start thinking about what forces are at work in this sequence. Really it's about the human explorers being confronted by the Shoggoth. The Elders are a red herring: a lot of noise and chaos that up the jeopardy -- but they aren't the main dramatic interaction. So I try blacking out all the Elder shots, so I can see how the Shoggoth and explorers are getting juxtaposed…

This would be a lot easier if I was working with a fixed set. But no, I started out with the notion that "all that matters is what the camera can see" -- and so there's no master map of where different characters are standing in relation to one another. I'm having to work backwards from the shots I want to keep, trying to infer how big the cave is and how far apart the Shoggoth and explorers are during the course of Act 3.

I can do the math to figure out how long it should take the Elders to get away from the Shoggoth based on their rate of movement… But this is again made more complex by the fact that I can't have everyone waking up all at once. Waking up, standing up, and running, has to be staggered amongst different clusters in the hive. And somehow I have to pick out moments and present them so that they seem true to a natural pace.

I've said it before: I could not have given myself a more difficult animation project had I intentionally set out to do so.

I can see it now… When the credits roll, they should read:

story, film, animation, & sound by:
my own worst enemy

posted by sven | April 16, 2009 4:00 PM | categories: let sleeping gods lie